Both the Salomon XT-4 and the Salomon XT-6 enjoy support from a wide range of subcultures. Actual outdoors enthusiasts, who use the shoes as intended — on the trails in the wilderness — are obviously big fans of the sneakers’ performance. The Gorpcore community is attracted by both sneakers’ functionality, although the vast majority of Gorp-heads are probably wearing their shoes in urban terrain. Then, of course, there are the “normal” sneakerheads, who enjoy Salomon’s always-on-point colorways and exciting collaborations.
But what exactly is the difference between Salomon’s two most popular silhouettes? What makes the
Salomon’s own website describes the XT-4 as a “robust trail running shoe that provides a stable and cushioned ride.” The Salomon XT-4 has an upper that features TPU film welded onto the abrasion-resistant mesh. That process makes the shoe lighter, without losing any of the ruggedness it needs to survive out on the trails. The outsole is equipped with Salomon’s proprietary Contragrip™ technology, which is paired with an aggressive lug design. Both of these things allow the Salomon XT-4 to maintain stability and grip, regardless of terrain and weather conditions. Finally, the midsole features an Agile Chassis™ system, which adds to the overall stability of the Salomon XT-4.
The Salomon XT-6 was launched in 2013 as the brand’s latest and greatest trail-running shoe. It was the final evolution of the aforementioned Salomon XT-4 (the XT-5 was launched in between the two models), and featured the XT line’s best technology and design details. Since then, both shoes have been replaced by lighter and better models, however, they are both very capable trail-running shoes if you want to give them a try.
The brand describes the shoe as the “preferred footwear for world-class athletes running ultra-distance races in harsh conditions,” which says pretty much everything we need to at this point.
As briefly mentioned above, both The Salomon XT-6 and the Salomon XT-4 are from the same family tree of trail-running shoes. What started as the XT-Wing turned into the XT-4, XT-5, and finally, the XT-6. Each version was an evolutionary step in the quest to design the best trail-running shoe possible. Both models have since been replaced by more modern trail-running shoes, with neither the XT-4 or XT-6 featuring in
That’s not to say that you can’t wear either model in a performance situation. As explained above, both feature ContraGrip™ outsoles, an Agile Chassis System midsole, and light and breathable uppers that are still relatively rugged. But nowadays, the Salomon XT-4 and Salomon XT-6 both lean more towards lifestyle and athleisure than hardcore performance. That’s also why both have been repositioned by the brand with attractive colorways and collaborations.
As technical as its design is, it remained expressive of its function and easily readable,” explained Jean-Philippe Lalonde, Salomon’s lifestyle footwear program manager. “When it comes to recontextualizing the XT-6, the transition is rather easy: moving from classic racing colors (red, black, white) to more muted or athletic colors, we’re able to create endless propositions.”
If you’re still keen to wear both the Salomon XT-4 and the Salomon XT-6 with one another on a pure performance basis, then it’s clear that the XT-6 comes out as the winner. The sneaker has a sleeker design and wins out by virtue of being the latest in the XT line. It wouldn’t exist, if it wasn’t better from a design and technology standpoint. The whole point of the Salomon XT-6 was to improve on the XT-5 and the XT-4 before it.
Both models have a relatively similar midsole and outer sole construction, meaning the grip is pretty much identical. The XT-6’s slimmer profile means it fits a little different to the XT-4, which should be taken into account when trying both on. Overall, the differences aren’t huge. The upper design is different and so is the shape, and it really comes down to personal preference. You’ll be fine running trails in either, though.
Let’s cut to the chase. This category is also going to be relatively subjective. The key difference between both models from a style perspective is that the Salomon XT-6 is slimmer than the XT-4, and that the XT-6 features a different visual design on the upper.
If you’re wearing the Salomon XT-6, your pants are more likely to fall over the sides of the show, engulfing the upper part of the XT-6. If you generally wear wavier trousers and like it when they give off the effect of “swallowing” your shoe, you’ll fancy the Salomon XT-6. On the other hand, the XT-4 has a slightly bulkier build, giving the upper (especially around the ankle) more structure. Although it entirely depends on the types of pants you wear, the Salomon XT-4 is more likely to give you that stack effect, so if that’s the vibe you’re going for, the XT-4 is your shoe.
Both models come in a range of different colorways and there’s no real rule of thumb when it comes to what type of colorways you’ll see on either model. But the Salomon XT-4 has had some crazier prints and patterns than the XT-6 in recent seasons. Salomon has opted to go for more multicolor schemes and gradients on the XT-4, whereas the XT-6 has arrived in more solid color blocking. The latest season has seen Salomon dress the XT-4 in two very different tie-dye patterns. The first is a colorful, more traditional tie-dye pattern, while the other is a more muted version. The Salomon XT-6 has arrived in several very earthy tones, such as brown or plum purple, but there have also been a few bright colorways on the XT-6.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and which colorway piques your interest the most. It might be that you prefer the XT-6 shape but an XT-4 colorway, or vice versa. Both sneakers are very solid and similar enough that you can substitute one for the other.
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